Tag Archives: app submission

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Google Play Metadata Rules Updated for Improved User Experience

Google has updated its metadata rules in order to create an improved experience for users. The new rules outline suggestions based on appropriate content, as well as best practices for highlighting your app’s best features in the Google Play store.

Many of the new updates simply reflect what Google has been saying all along – don’t lie about the functionality of your app, don’t stuff unrelated keywords into your description, and don’t use the names of other apps out of context.

In the below screenshot, Google outlines how some developers try to scam their way to rankings by stuffing inappropriate keywords into their app descriptions.

playpolicy-spam01

In case the above points aren’t clear, Google outlines specifically what they are not looking to see in a description:

  1. User testimonials
  2. Excessive details
  3. Misleading references to other apps or products
  4. Further misleading references
  5. Repetitive, excessive, or irrelevant keywords

When writing a Google Play description, it is important that you use keywords that are relevant for your app. Placing those keywords in a Google Play-friendly location of your description, such as at the front of a sentence, can also help you pick up rankings, no keyword-stuffing needed.

Google then goes on to list examples of inappropriate text, images, or videos within your app listing:

  • Imagery or videos with sexually suggestive content. Avoid suggestive imagery containing breasts, buttocks, genitalia or other fetishized anatomy or content, whether illustrated or real.
  • Language inappropriate for a general audience. Avoid profane and vulgar language in your app listing. If it is a critical element of your app, you must censor its presentation within the Store listing.
  • Graphic violence prominently depicted in app icons, promotional images, or videos.
  • Depictions of the illicit usage of drugs. Even EDSA (Educational, Scientific, or Artistic) content must be suitable for all audience within the Store listing.

Finally, Google lists off several best practices to adhere to when crafting your app listing.

  • Highlight what’s great about your app. Share interesting and exciting facts about your app to help users understand what makes you app special.
  • Make sure that your app’s title and description accurately describe your app’s functionality.
  • Avoid using repetitive or unrelated keywords or references.

These are just a few of the tips that Google had in store. To see the rest, head over to their Metadata page.

For the most part, these tips go along with what ASO experts have recommended. Keep the focus on your app, not on testimonials or competing app names, and Google should have no problem with your app’s metadata.

5 Tips For Creating A Great Mobile App Name

5 Tips For Creating A Great Mobile App Name

The App Store is the holy grail of mobile app user acquisition. Curated and exceedingly well-stocked, there are over 1.5 million apps and growing in both the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Unfortunately, it is also a place where an app can easily be forgotten, especially when it attempts to muscle into a particularly difficult part of the market.

If you want to chase your fortunes in the mobile app stores, or connect with more customers on the medium they increasingly prefer, every aspect of your application must be polished.

The very first element of your app a potential user will see – whether when searching the stores or browsing – is the app name.

A great application name must:

- Avoid confusion

- Stay on brand

- Clearly communicate value

- Aim for Relevance

- Stand out on the global stage

Without a strong app name, your app will likely lose out to competitors even if their apps are not as good.  Below are tips that will allow you to get the most out of your app’s name.

Avoid Confusion

Having a sound-alike name can be useful if you are looking for a clone to pump out short-term cash, but creating something that confuses consumers is not useful over the long term.

There are plenty of apps on the store that have a name that is closely related to something more popular without being confusing to consumers or purposely misleading.

Tweetbot is a good example.  Their app’s core functions are managing tweets and Twitter accounts – so they have “Twitter” in the name.

tweetbot

But the copycat app “Tweetbot” is named to purposely confuse consumers who mistakenly think they are buying the “Tweetbot 4 for Twitter” app.

tweetbot clone

Apple and Google will approve your app name/title as long as it is not a direct match with another app listed in their store.  It is up to you the publisher to make sure your app name is not so similar to an existing app that consumers are confused about what they are getting.

Stay On-Brand

Your mobile app name is an extension of your brand.

Take a look at the best-selling and most installed apps on the front page – they’re incredibly clear about the companies behind the product.

Some apps, like Facebook or Twitter, simply use the name of the company’s service.  Other apps, like Microsoft’s SmartGlass or any of King’s various Match-3 games, follow a naming scheme that is closely related to the company’s other efforts.

king-apps-mobile-app-names

Familiarity helps consumers remember your app, while anything that goes too far outside the norm will simply confuse them.  Try to stay on-brand because that’s what consumers will expect from you.

Make it Easy

One of the worst things you can do with an app name is to attempt to be overly clever.  Let the consumer know what your apps does and how it can benefit them – don’t try to confuse them.

For indexing and conversion – we recommend using specific features in your app name.  It is important for ASO and it is important for conversion as users understand immediately what problems your app solves, or what to expect upon install.

Try to stay away from overly technical jargon and amusing plays on words in favor of simple names that help users find your app and understand what your app does.

If you look at the average number of words in the best selling apps on Apple’s App Store, you’ll find that the big winners tend to average somewhere between three and five words.

Much of this is due to many having very identifiable brands – but keeping the core name of the app (the app name before any mention of features) is generally advisable.

Understand the Difference Between the Apple and Google App Stores

Each store has it’s own requirements and tools (and name) for the App Name/App Title field.

Apple’s App Name is 255 has a 255 character limit but we strongly discourage using any more than 80.

Google’s Play Store uses a App Title field which is limited to 30 characters, but provides tools for testing different names on a portion of your live store traffic and by country as well.

Check out our App Name guide for Apple and our Google Play App Title guide.

Go Global

Many of the best performing apps are those with global appeal.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to translate certain concepts into other languages.  As such, it’s important to take a global view of your app name before putting it up for global sale.

Some of the greatest marketing blunders in history have come about because marketing departments weren’t doing their due diligence looking at the translation of certain product names into other languages – and it’s important that you don’t make the same mistakes.

Even if localizing your keywords, app listing or in-app content is not in your current plans – it is better to make an effort now than have to change something as major as the app name when you are ready for broadening your market base.

Check to make sure your app name doesn’t have unwanted connotations when it’s introduced into new markets and double-check to make sure someone else isn’t already dominating the market with a similar name.


The app name or app title is a unique app listing field in that is plays a big role in how your app is indexed, how well it converts app store views to users, and how well it retains users once the app is installed.

Use ASO best practices and the above tips for creating an app name that will serve your mobile app efforts for the long-term.

Localize App Keywords for Increased App Downloads

Localize App Keywords for Increased App Downloads

In 2015 China surpassed the US in the number of iPhones sold and in app downloads.

Japan generated more revenue on Google Play than the US or the UK.

For 2015, which of the below countries had more downloads on Google Play than the UK, Canada and Germany?:

  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Turkey
  • Indonesia
  • Thailand

Answer:  All of them!

There’s users and revenue in them there hills.

App store localization

While localizing your entire app may make sense, there is a way to test the market before committing to a full localization – localizing only your app’s store listing metadata.

Even before localizing your app screenshots  or icon, you can get an idea of the potential ROI of a complete app localization by starting with localizing and optimizing the keywords and phrases your app targets in the app metadata.

Since the descriptions and app title in Google Play and the app name and keywords field in Apple are built off of the phrases you are targeting – we’ll focus why and how to localize app keywords in this post.

iOS App Store localization

For an iOS app listing we recommend an app name format of

  • “App name – feature #1, feature #2” or
  • “App name – keyword rich tagline”

When localizing, you may decide to keep the app name consistent but change the features or tagline that follows the app name using words the localized target market is using to find apps like yours.

OK – where do I start?

The Apple App Store distributes to over 150 countries in over 40 languages.

Looking at the downloads and app store revenue generated by each country can help us focus our efforts.

China, US, Japan, Australia, UK, Germany, Canada and France are the largest iOS app stores by volume and revenue. South Koreans and Asian app consumers in general tend to spend more per user than their western counterparts, especially on games – so adding South Korea to this list may make sense as well.

China has become too big to ignore.  The US, UK, Canada and Australia are all English – which makes the localization effort a bit easier.  French is represented in Canada and France.

With a little effort you can localize and optimize for 5 huge app stores (countries) in addition to the US.

Google Play Store localization

For the app title in Google Play, we recommend a format of:

“App name – Feature#1″

Secondary features would then be used in the short description, and all target terms in the full description.

Hiring a writer to write a description using your targeted keywords and phrases for the full description is a much better approach than translating your English description.

Many services even provide a translation level that translates the meaning of the original and not the literal.

Spend a moment translating American idioms into Spanish to see how easy it is to communicate the wrong thing when translating literally.

amercian idioms

The largest Google Play stores by revenue are the US, Japan, South Korea and Germany.  Brazil, Russia, India and Mexico drive significant downloads.

Localization best practices

Avoid a straight translation from Google Translate.

The process of localizing an app listing for another country looks a lot like your ASO process in English.

  • How are users looking for your app or apps with similar or related features?
  • What keywords and phrases do Apple and Google see as relevant?
  • What are your app’s most important or distinguishing features?
  • What words and phrases work together to provide the largest, relevant app store search coverage?

The same questions should be answered for each app store you are targeting.

Aim for the meaning vs the literal translation

We have talked quite a bit on this blog about the difference between how users search the web and how users search the app stores.

Just like how it is not a good idea to use web search data for determining relevant app store search terms or traffic, building a list of target keywords and phrases in a new language should not just be a translation of your existing keywords field.

When you spend any significant amount of time in a foreign country – the amount of communication using colloquialisms or idioms  becomes hilariously apparent.

This is as true for Americans visiting England as it is when visiting Colombia or Russia. Even San Diegans and folks from Montgomery, Alabama have completely different ways of communicating ideas.

Consider that the Apple App Store has 4 types of English (US, Canada, UK, Australia).

The approach of hiring a writer to translate your descriptions using your localized app keywords will cost a bit more but the alternative – hiring a writer to provide a literal translation – is probably not worth doing at all.

As with much of optimization – measure what works, improve what doesn’t and increase the investment in localization as the ROI becomes more clear.

Holiday App Marketing Tips (1)

Holiday App Marketing Tips

The holidays are upon us, with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” pointing to a very mobile holiday season.

Data from IBM and Adobe showed web traffic, sales and even in-store purchases significantly impacted by mobile and mobile apps.

The end of the year and January are always very big for app publishers as new smartphones are received as presents, and down time with family is time spent on “the second screen”.

So how to make sure your app is well positioned for the holidays and the January spike?

Don’t Neglect Push Notifications

One of the huge advantages of acquiring users for your mobile app is the ability to reach them with notifications.

Notifications can be automated via some in-app trigger (local) or sent manually remotely (push) and are the tool for engaging with your app audience.

One reason people prefer notifications to email, SMS/text or other marketing is because the information is short,  time-sensitive and actionable.

A user can look at a short notification, and immediately decide if it is relevant and if they want to take action – or to ignore it.

No saving for later like email, or even having to open an email app to view – notifications go directly to the user’s home or lock screen, and may even buzz or sound an alert depending on the user settings.

Unless your app is Facebook, your app is not top of mind to your users no matter how much they love your app or brand.

Give them a reason to re-engage with your app, and share that reason with a notification.

Expect Mobile Sales

Even from customers are in your store.

That’s right, data from Thanksgiving weekend in the US showed 23% of purchases from consumers in a retail store were via mobile. The shopper was in the store and was either price-checking the item, or finding ratings or reviews or more information, and purchased from the retailer’s website via their mobile device.

IBM reported that mobile accounted for 57% of online traffic and 36% of online sales – up 30% from 2014.

Holiday Icons & Screenshots

Updating your app regularly is generally a good idea for several reasons, and having an icon that is aligned to the season (or at least the holiday season) signals to prospective users that your app is up to date.

A holiday-themed icon is also eye-catching for existing users who notice your updated icon in their device.

app-marketing-holidays-episodesholiday-app-marketing-tips-me

 

 

 

 

 

Likely your app is either a brand or an extension of your brand, so don’t stray too far from your existing icon, but adding some seasonal treatment can show users your app and brand are engaged with the season just like they are.

holiday-app-marketing-kim

Convert Mobile Web Visitors

The latest operating system for iPhones and iPad, iOS 9 introduces new features for users and publishers that makes searching the web, the app store, content within apps and their device much easier with Siri and Spotlight.

To capture mobile web traffic and convert these visitors to mobile app installs and users – add an app banner.

smartbanner-branch

This alerts your mobile web visitors that you have a mobile app and links users directly to the app store for installation.

Even if you miss Apple’s app store shut down (Dec 22 – Jan 4th), get your app updates submitted as  January is generally a big month for mobile and mobile apps!

Best wishes and happy holidays!

White Hat ASO vs Black Hat ASO

Any time there is an algorithm that determines where an object (website, book, mobile app, etc..) ranks for a specific search, there are ways to improve the object’s ranking.

For example, a book on Amazon is much more likely to be ranked highly in a search if the title of the book contains the searched for words.

Practices for optimizing a mobile app for the Google and Apple app store indexes fall into one of two camps – white hat or black hat.

White hat and Black hat

For the uninitiated, “white hat” and “black hat” are terms used in marketing but stem from hacking computer security systems.

White hat hackers hack security systems to test for flaws or otherwise ensure the security of an organization.

Black hat hackers circumvent security for personal gain or general maliciousness.

In marketing – and specifically optimization for ranking/visibility –  white hat generally refers to approaches that are not against any laws, or rules and guidelines of the indexing entity (Google, Amazon, the app stores, Pinterest, etc…).

Black hat – on the other hand – are approaches that do not follow the rules of the indexing entity, but may not be detectable or enforceable in the short-term.

In general, black hat in marketing may appeal to some as cutting edge or a chance to jump ahead, but is rarely (never) a good long-term strategy.

In web search, each new Google algorithm update addresses black hat tactics and penalizes the websites and urls significantly.

In the app stores, Apple and Google can simply remove your app or worse, remove the entire developer portfolio and profile.

It is simple not worth attempting to game the app store rankings system with black hat techniques as the risks far outweigh the rewards.

Black Hat Strategies (to avoid)

So what are some black hat app store optimization techniques we should be wary of?

Automating ratings and reviews

You build, or hire a service that scrapes reviews from other apps,  reformats the reviews and automates posting ratings and reviews in Google Play and in the Apple App Store.

Carter Thomas over at Blue Cloud wrote up a nice analysis of what appeared to be automated reviews on the smash hit Flappy Bird.

Here is a sample of what Carter found and shared (go see his post to see a few more):

reviews

Examples pop up from time to time, where there are seemingly random reviews or reviews that don’t align with the rating.

Large fluctuations in the app stores are often linked to Apple and Google scrubbing out offenders like the above.

Buying Ratings and Reviews

On fiverr, Upwork and across the web, there are offers for bulk app reviews.   Not unlike “Get 1,000 Twitter followers for $10″ but far more damaging.

fake-reviews

Enough said.

Apptentive is a service for engaging users and prompting reviews naturally in the app.  Check out their thoughts on fake reviews.

Incentivized app downloads and ratings

Because downloads, ratings/reviews and velocity impacts search rankings and placement in the top app charts, why not give away a few smurfberries in exchange for a rating or for installing another app in your portfolio?

Apple recognized that ads that included a virtual good as a reward for installing an app  meant that apps were being installed and immediately deleted as users performed actions for the reward and had no interest otherwise.

Likewise, rewarded ratings and reviews seemed too much like rewarding “good” reviews so Apple banned rewarded reviews as well.

worldofsearch

The process for a user to rate or review an app is ugly, so incentivizing seemed like a good deal for all parties – publishers, users and the app stores.

Apple and Google disagree and are solving this issue another way, by using conversion and engagement metrics as stronger indicators of an app’s relevance to a search than the quantity or quality of the ratings.

White Hat Strategies

White hat strategies for ASO continue to provide the most long-term benefits and include a lot of what we talk about on this blog.

See our guides for Apple ASO and Google Play ASO for specific best practices for ranking higher and converting more relevant users in the app stores, without the risk of penalties or worse.

Remember that the app stores are closed marketplaces, and are booming.

The review teams and Apple and now Google are busy, and the reward for those who follow their rules is high enough, that both Apple and Google have little tolerance for developer and publishers who push the envelope well past their respective policies.